Year zero for the NHS - The King's Fund responds to Healthcare Commission Annual Health Check

Speaking in response to the results of the Annual Health Check released today by the Healthcare Commission, The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson praised the new system and said this was now 'year zero for the NHS' - the information can't be compared with previous data and what will matter now is how trusts take this forward.

Niall Dickson said:

'The old star ratings were an inadequate and crude system of measurement and we welcome the annual health check as it provides a much better analysis of trusts' performance across the board.

'The results today paint a mixed picture, and although some of the information is worrying much of it confirms what we already knew. On the positive side, the NHS continues to do well on key targets around waiting times, cancer and some public health areas.

'However, it is unacceptable that quality of services and resource management remain weak in so many trusts. There is clearly a mountain to climb here especially in financial management - in part a legacy of the health service not grappling with underlying deficits early enough.

'This is year zero for the NHS. Ultimately what will matter is whether trusts are able to improve their quality of services and use of resources year-on-year.'

Niall Dickson added:

'The information here will be useful for trusts to benchmark themselves against each other but what is less clear is the value to patients who must be able to access comprehensible information on their local services. Ultimately information around specific health improvements is useful and we would like to see a move to measure health outcomes.

'Although trusts are to be commended in identifying weaknesses through their self-assessment exercises - and this is the first time the exercise has been carried out - we are concerned that many across the country overestimated their levels and had their standards revised by the healthcare commission. As a significant number of trusts remain unsampled we are concerned that some of these results will be higher than they should be.'

Notes to editors: 

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact the King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.